Had the gift of a day away in the mountains. Time to see the sun rise on my way out of town. To enjoy the brilliant shades of autumn color. I love so many things about every season. In the fall I love crisp air, crunchy leaves, pumpkins, baking, scarves and all of that good stuff. But, I also can't get enough of the rich, deep blue sky. The way the sun shines on the changing leaves from more of an angle in the sky. It makes everything more beautiful. It's so pretty that I hardly notice when suddenly it's over and the last leaves have fallen...and suddenly it's cold and brown and not so pretty. But, when the days are shorter and colder I switch my focus to indoors with warm bread in the oven, cozy socks, the fireplace going, snuggles while reading books and watching movies and playing games. Then suddenly it's time to celebrate Christmas and soon after spring is on it's way. OK...not really so soon after here in Colorado. Spring sometimes feels like it's a long time coming. But, the promise is always there...hope for new life, brand new shiny leaves and flowers and days at the park will return again.
Life with 6 kiddos of varying ages is busy. But, this season we are in has been filled with some extra challenges. It's stretching us and our faith. We continually remind each other that God is bigger. Adoption is a beautiful miracle - no doubt. But, it's always good for us to remember that it is necessary because it follows tragic loss...of a birth parent, culture and very often so much trauma it absolutely tears your heart open. We are walking through some painful, challenging times with our girls. I feel like our initial time adjusting this time was a bit like summer - some hot, sticky moments - but over all filled with good stuff. Then we moved into a season where things were changing and losing the vibrant colors of life and growth. We knew it might be hard. We took the advice we so often give others - prepare for the worst, hope for the best and cover it all in lots and lots of prayer.
I drove up through the Big Thompson Canyon, which flooded a year ago and brought devastation and loss to many families, homes and businesses. Each time I go up it looks a bit more back to 'normal.' A new normal - literally as the flood water cut new paths, changing the shape of mountain sides, tearing up miles of road and bridges. Along the main highway - if you didn't know it happened - there would be many parts of the drive that it wouldn't be so obvious anymore. However, today I took the road through Glenhaven so I could support the general store and buy a couple of their famous cinnamon rolls! (I'm just doing my part!) That drive was a whole different story. The paved road that used to have a gently flowing river is now a muddy, dirt road with all kinds of flood debris along the sides and giant trees uprooted and laying on the sides of the road.
Yet...right in the midst of all of this devastation - I am surprised by beauty. The gorgeous trees who refused to fall - showing off their fall colors. The people - still working so hard to restore and rebuild their roads, bridges, homes and businesses. Standing in line for my cinnamon roll - I listened to the locals talk about a town meeting tonight and it was so clear how much this little community has had to really pull together over this past year. As I drove on up to Estes Park - I thought how the flood waters wouldn't have been so damaging if everybody knew it was going to happen - years in advance. They could have built bridges higher and stronger. Reinforced roads and homes. Moved the earth to help direct the river and all of it's abundance. But, they didn't know...when a mountain range gets more rain over a few days then is usual in an entire year - all of that water has to go somewhere - downhill and fast leaving much devastation in it's wake.
It made me think how our lives seem so different right now, too. If we would have known exactly what we might be dealing with - we might have felt like we could prepare better. But, we are finding our new normal as we deal with trauma and anxiety that has cut through our lives like flood waters. We are attempting to clean up the debris of challenging and scary behaviors, bad dreams, PTSD and more. We spend a lot of time listening, reassuring, monitoring, driving to appointments, reading and praying through out each and every day. This combined with our normal day to day duties has been a lot. We don't know exactly how all of this will end.
But, this we know...He who calls us is faithful. And our hope is in Him!
Today my bible study spoke about 1 Thessalonians 1:3 - We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh - so timely. I love it when Jesus speaks to me so clearly in several places - confirming His message for me.
"We have access to the Holy Spirit welling up in us like a spring. Tapping into Him requires deliberation and cooperation so God can love through us. Like me, you've probably asked Him to love through you, then fizzled out within the hour. Here's the catch: we cannot love when we perceive ourselves as unloved. We cannot offer to others what we don't possess...
Jude 21 says, "keep yourselves in the love of God, expecting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ." That means practicing the mindset of being profusely loved by God. We must invite our souls to plunge into His love like a dolphin romping in the sea. Actively engaging in His unending, extravagant, no-strings-attached affection for you is not narcissism. Its necessity. it can mean our survival when we're faced with the loveless."
~ Beth Moore - Children of the Day
We spend so much time loving our girls by listening, praying and helping them and some days seem a bit better - like we're making progress. Then suddenly we're thrown another loop and the hopelessness can start to seep in. The counselors say we are doing everything right and to hang in there. But, I know there are times we fail. Times we snap or get tired and cranky. Times when we get overwhelmed and operate out of our own strength and resources. Somedays I feel downright unqualified for this job.
Then I read this quote from Oswald Chambers...
"To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children."
Oh how I long for God to be able to use me in the lives of His Children - my children.
He is their hope. Spring will come again...we can count on it and we can have hope. Hope in Him...in his strength, love and redeeming power. Hope that He will restore what was lost and exchange beauty for ashes. In Him we have hope...that makes all the difference.
And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.